Hey Big Spender! (For Semiconductor R&D, That’s Intel)

Nvidia, Samsung, and TSMC are dialing R&D spending way up, but Intel dominates

Close up of an Intel Core X processor
Photo: Intel

The semiconductor industry in general is increasing its investments in research and development, but it will take a long time to challenge Intel’s dominant role.

That’s the conclusion of a report by IC Insights. The research firm indicated that overall industry spending, considering the top ten semiconductor companies (see chart, below), was up 6 percent in 2017 over 2016 to US $34 billion. Intel increased its already high levels of R&D spending by 3 percent to more than $13 billion—that Silicon Valley company invests more in R&D annually than the next five companies—Qualcomm, Broadcom, Samsung, Toshiba, and TSMC—combined. MediaTek, Micron, Nvidia, and SK Hynix rounded out the top ten list.

Beyond the top ten, IC Insights reported that eight more companies—NXP, TI, ST, AMD, Renesas, Sony, Analog Devices, and Global Foundries—spent more than $1 billion on semiconductor R&D last year.

The fastest growing R&D budget, the research firm said, is over at Intel’s Silicon Valley neighbor, Nvidia, whose nearly $1.8 billion R&D investment in 2017 topped its 2016 numbers by 23 percent. TSMC, Samsung, and SK Hynix also gave big boosts to their research budgets, while Qualcomm and Toshiba made cuts [see chart, below].

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